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By Chinwendu Agoha (MDA Reporter)

Following the public disclosure of the list of alleged beneficiaries of the scandalous contract awards in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori, has denied benefiting from any contract award from the Commission.

Ibori who reacted on Monday to the news report of the list linking him and other eminent Nigerians to the contract awards, said he neither solicited for, nor was awarded any contract by the NDDC or any agency of government at any time, not to talk of executing contract jobs from any quarter.

The former governor's denial was contained in a statement by his Media spokesman, Mr Tony Eluemuno. He stated that in all his public life as an officer holder and out of it, he has never been associated with contract awards let alone executing a failed one.

Ibori however described as "ridiculous" his mention in the contract scam by Akpabio and therefore advised the Minister to limit his interest and focus to the issues at hand in the NDDC.

Ibori's statement reads: "Chief James Onanefe Ibori, on hearing the news of the alleged Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contract award to him this morning, from the former Governor of Akwa-Ibom state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as published by Punch newspapers and other online publications, said he did not want to join in the “dancing in the market square” going on in the NDDC right now.

"He has decided to make this clarification for the records because friends and associates inundated him with phone calls this morning. So, he is stating categorically that he never solicited for, or was awarded, or indeed executed, any contract with NDDC or any government agency, at any time, for that matter.

"And in all he has been through in and out of public office, he has never been accused of being a government contractor, let alone a failed one hence he did not want to dignify the allegation with a response because it is ridiculous. So, Ibori is advising Akpabio, his brother, friend and member of the former Governors Forum, to please calm down and focus on the task at hand.

"The NDDC we have today is a product of his personal sacrifice as well as those of his Niger Delta colleagues (1999 -2007) who rose to the occasion to override the veto of President Olusegun Obasanjo who refused to assent to the NDDC Bill at the time. If not for the exemplary courage some of us exhibited, there would have not been an NDDC to bicker about today”, he stated

Ibori continued: “Watching the level the NDDC has degenerated to, is a tragedy. We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta to make NDDC work, to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the region and to realise the dream for which we fought for it to be set up. So, let everybody involved in the NDDC do their duties to the good people of the region", Ibori stated. NNL

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